Marijuana possession, sale, and manufacture are regulated by both state and federal law. In Tennessee, marijuana is classified as a Schedule VI substance, which means that it has a low potential for dependency or abuse. However, despite this classification, Tennessee has not legalized marijuana for medical purposes (other than low-THC cannabidiol, or CBD oil, prescribed by a doctor for an approved medical condition), and imposes harsh penalties for marijuana possession, use, and sales. (Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-402, 39-17-415 (2019).) While not covered in this article, it is a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana in Tennessee.
It is a crime to possess marijuana in Tennessee. It is also illegal to “causally exchange” (that is, to give away or sell) up to and including one half of an ounce of marijuana. Penalties vary according to the conviction, and increased penalties apply to offenses involving a minor. In addition to the penalties described below, a judge may order the defendant to participate (at defendant’s expense) in a drug offender school, perform community service hours, or both.
Possessing any amount of marijuana, or exchanging up to and including one half of ounce of marijuana (with or without payment), is a Class A misdemeanor. For a first conviction, penalties include up to a year in jail, a fine of up at least $250 and as much as $2,500, or both. The same potential penalties apply for a second conviction, except that the minimum fine is $500. And for a third conviction, the minimum fine rises to $1,000.
(Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-418, 39-17-419, 39-17-428, 39-35-111 (2019).)
It is illegal to cultivate or sell marijuana or hashish (or possess marijuana or hashish with the intent to do so) in Tennessee. Penalties vary according to the amount cultivated or sold, with increased penalties for sales to a minor or within a drug free school zone.
(Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-418, 39-17-428, 39-35-111 (2019).)
It is illegal in Tennessee to manufacture, sell, or use drug paraphernalia (or possess paraphernalia with the intent to do so). Paraphernalia includes items used in growing, harvesting, processing, selling, storing, or using marijuana. Penalties for possession include a fine of at least $150 and up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both. Selling paraphernalia may be punished with a fine of up to $3,000, between one and six years in prison, or both. (Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-402, 39-17-425, 39-17-428, 39-35-111 (2019).)
A stamp tax is a tax imposed on certain types of transactions (such as the transfer of property) that requires a stamp to be purchased and attached either to the item sold or to an instrument documenting the transaction (such as a deed). The federal government imposes stamp taxes on deeds, the issue and transfer of stocks and bonds, and on playing cards.
In Tennessee, those who buy, transport, or import marijuana into Tennessee are required to pay a stamp tax and place the stamp (proof of payment) onto the contraband. However, because the possession of marijuana is illegal, people typically don’t pay the stamp tax. When you are convicted for possession, you will also be liable for payment of the unpaid taxes ($3.50 for each gram or portion of a gram of marijuana, or $350 per marijuana plant). (Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-4-2803 (2019).)
If you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. While the penalties and consequences of a marijuana charge are governed by statutory law, take note that the law can change at any time. Only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.